When Mac was born, I was Research Girl. I tried not to overdo it, but I read and listened to my trusty sources of mom information to get all the best intel on strollers and car seats and swings (oh my!). Knowing that I had done a little homework, a few new moms e-mailed me asking for my advice in the months to follow, which inspired this blog post with my recommendations for newborn gear. (You can also check out my thoughts about products for currently pregnant people here!)
Now that I have a 16-month-old, I thought I’d do another post recommending the things that I’ve used in Mac’s transition from baby to toddler. I hope this is helpful in making your shopping trips shorter, or making your gift-getting for babies in your life a bit easier! And if all else fails, just give them a stick to play with. Works for us.
DOHM white noise machine/travel white noise. If you’ve followed along here for a while, you know I swear by sleep training (at the appropriate developmental stage, of course). White noise is the key to easy transitional sleep and happy parents and babies, both at home and on the road!
Hiring a sleep consultant. If your child is 12+ months old and still struggling to sleep through the night, and you’re feeling too overwhelmed to attempt sleep training on your own, I highly recommend hiring a sleep consultant. These goddesses from heaven are reasonably priced and will SAVE YOUR SANITY. My favorite is Maggie Moore, who runs her own business and is a certified pediatric sleep coach/angel. I sleep trained Mac using Moms on Call with great success, but when I have questions at this point, I reach out to Maggie!
Moms on Call. As previously stated, my absolute lifeline. They have three books for the different ages of your baby from newborn through the toddler years, and though a lot of the information is included in all three books, the wisdom they impart about how to deal with a toddler who is TESTING YOUR PATIENCE is worth a look. It’s also full of great medical tips about common colds, dangerous fever levels, and stomach bugs. Since it was written by two nurses, it’s advice you can feel confident following.
Little Giraffe Blanket. This is what Mac takes into the crib with him - the perfect size and is so soft and adorable. The size (14x14) makes it easy to pack and to take on trips wherever we may need it. A great “lovey!”
Slumberpod. This is a new discovery, but something I anticipate will be a game-changer for many of you. It really belongs in the “travel” section, but I didn’t want you to miss it since it’s a sleep aid! This pod fits over any pack and play and is designed to prevent your baby from seeing you if you’re sharing a room while traveling, eliminating that “sneak into the room like a ninja and pray that that squeaky board didn’t just wake up your child at 11 PM in a house full of other people who are also trying to sleep” anxiety. If you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about. There’s even a pocket for a monitor or a portable white noise machine!
Inglesina high chair. We bought this high chair when he started sitting up, and I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, it’s portable and small, and affixes to just about any surface. On the other hand, it is kind of a pain to clean. You have to break the high chair down, unzip the cover, wash/dry, then zip it back on when it’s finished. It’s not complicated, but it is time consuming. It would be a lot easier to have something that we could wipe down. But all that said, it’s a great, easy, safe piece and has served us well.
ciao! baby travel high chair. This bad boy, on the other hand, I RAVE ABOUT to everyone I know. My grandparents gave us this little travel high chair and I cannot tell you how many times we use it - when we’re eating outdoors, traveling to a friend’s house who doesn’t have children, etc. It could even be taken to a restaurant. It’s lightweight like a camping chair and folds up to nothing in its own bag. The tray is even lined with plastic that can be wiped down, and it has a 5-point harness to ensure your little one doesn’t jump out.
OXO Tot On The Go Fork and Spoon Set. The big, chunky handles and curvature of these tools give your baby the confidence to try feeding him/herself. Mess not included, but will be provided - don’t you worry.
Waterproof Silicone Bibs with Pocket. To tell you the truth, Mac really didn’t tolerate bibs at all. We tried for about 2 weeks, and he kept pulling them off, so we bailed and just embraced the mess. But while we tried it, we loved that this one had a pocket!
Munchkin Sippy Cup. This is another thing Mac hasn’t quite mastered. Sippy cups are really a matter of what your baby can handle and understand. It’s tough for him to grasp that there’s liquid underneath the lip of this cup since he can’t see it, so we will probably transition from a bottle with this next product (because it has a spout, it’ll feel more familiar). However, SO many people I know use these, and they’re amazing for kids who can get it!
Nuby No-Spill Super Spout Sippy Cup. Mac absolutely loved this, and the spout gave him a hint as to what the heck he was supposed to do with it. He was so proud the first time he figured it out!
EZPZ happy mat. A classic! Sticks to a flat surface so your toddler can’t overturn his plate (until he learns that once he pulls up the sides, it’s game over. Oy.).
A disclaimer that there are, of course, A BAGILLION TOYS AND GAMES for kids this age. Here’s a sampling that might help you narrow it down!
Baby Einstein walker. Mac was an early walker (started at the very end of 10 months old), but before he was cruising on his own, he LIVED in this walker. I put it in my last guide, but I think it applies to babies at different ages depending on their development!
V-Tech Sit to Stand Walker. Another great option for early walkers!
Leapfrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket. Colors, shapes, fine motor skill development, imaginative play, etc.!
Touch and feel books. The one thing we heard from all new parents was to read to our baby. But Mac, from the very beginning, has been on the move - it broke my heart when he’d only sit for a page or two of a book before motoring off. Finally, I started introducing these books into the system, the game changed. When he was able to interact with the shapes or colors or textures on a page, he became immediately hooked and actually brings me books now to read to him that aren’t touch/feel. Winning!
Melissa and Doug Pull-Back Cars. These little guys are spring loaded so that when they’re dragged backwards, they gain momentum and shoot across a room. Perfect for active baby girls and baby boys who love to chase and retrieve different items.
Melissa and Doug Grocery Basket. One of Mac’s favorite Christmas presents - he can’t get enough of these fake groceries!
Musical instruments. Anything and everything. Maracas, little drums, keyboards, etc. - Mac loves music and any opportunity to make it on his own is really fun to watch.
Tunnel. I mean, seriously. Hours of fun. So little lift.
Ring stacker. Mac loved that the top ring was a rattle when he was littler, and now that he can stack them, he loves it even more.
Baby Stella Peach Doll. A rec from my best friend Ginny who has a daughter exactly Mac’s age! Not that dolls are only for girls (don’t come for me, I’m pro all-toys-for-all-kids).
Radio Flyer products. We have a “Scoot About,” which is kind of a Fred Flintstone tricycle. But any Radio Flyer products are a great gift for little people who are on the move!
Green Toys Cars/Trucks/Trains. Embarrassed to admit how many of these we have.
Activity Cubes, both wooden and plastic. We keep this cube in the backseat of our car and it never leaves, which means Mac always has something to play with in his car seat. We even have a song that we sing while he’s getting buckled in to help him exercise patience (to the tune of Frere Jacques): “First your car seat, first your car seat, then your toy! Then your toy! Strap in good and tight, strap in good and tight, little boy, little boy.” Bet you didn’t think you’d get that weirdo little song out of this blog post, did you? You’re WELCOME.
Sidewalk chalk. Y’all, I cannot tell you how much time we’ve spent outside with sidewalk chalk since the weather got warm. This is a GREAT activity for busy toddlers like mine and allows for some creativity and messiness that’s all left OUTSIDE. Brilliant!
Skip Hop Whale Waterfall Rinser. This cute little cup is perfect for dousing your baby without water boarding them - the little lip on top makes it easy to avoid pouring water all over their faces!
Faucet cover. Essential for parents of active children who refuse to sit down in the bath and risk violently maiming themselves on the faucet.
Boon bathtub mat. See above, but add “slipping to their falling death.” Also, my child refuses to sit down in the tub, so he only stands. …because he’s the world’s most active baby. Thank you and goodnight.
Mesh toyganizer. We actually don’t have one of these, but need one. The drip-dry feature to avoid mildew-y bath toys is clutch!
Letters and numbers. I still remember that my little brother’s favorite letter was W. Why? Because it was fun at bath time, of course!
Pockit Lightweight Stroller. We love our Uppababy Vista, but it’s pretty bulky and can be tough to travel with by car or plane since it takes up so much space. This travel stroller is a great alternative! Folds up into a little square and is small enough to fit underneath a plane seat. Brilliant.
Chicco NextFit Zip. When it came time for us to move from an infant car seat, this made the most sense for us. Mac was growing so quickly, and the way this car seat accommodates baby’s growth is unmatched. The headrest is adjustable, as is the recline of the seat itself (9 different positions as your baby gets older). It goes from rear-facing to front-facing. But the best part? The entire interior zips out, so those on the road blowouts are machine washable.
Headphones. Check with your pediatrician about decibel level and appropriateness, but we loved using these headphones at a low volume when we were traveling by plane with Mac. Playing white noise or music he likes though them prevented several airport meltdowns.
Monogrammed seersucker backpack, AKA, the “Mac”pack. This cute backpack is all the rage in Alabama, and my sweet friend Ginny made sure that even thought we were in Asheville, we weren’t missing out. We use this CONSTANTLY, especially for road trips and outings where he’ll need a change of clothes.
Neck pillow. If you’re thinking to yourself that this is the bougiest and most ridiculous toddler item, you’re right. And yet, if you can slip this on a sleeping baby on a plane without their knowledge so their head doesn’t loll around? ACES.